PowerPoint 2010: Indents and Line Spacing

Indents and line spacing are two important text formatting features in PowerPoint 2010 that allow you to change the way text appears on a slide. Using them properly can greatly enhance the readability and visual appeal of your presentations.


Indents allow you to inset text from the slide margins. This creates a visual separation between paragraphs or can be used to create multi-level lists.

Paragraph Indents

To indent an entire paragraph in PowerPoint 2010:

  • Select the text you want to indent
  • On the horizontal ruler, drag the Left Indent marker to the desired position[1]
  • Alternatively, you can use the Increase/Decrease Indent buttons on the Home tab[3]

You can also indent just the first line of a paragraph to visually separate it from subsequent lines:

  • Select the paragraph
  • Drag the First Line Indent marker on the ruler[4]
  • The first line will indent, while other lines remain at the margin

Hanging indents are also possible by dragging the Hanging Indent marker instead[4]. This indents all lines except the first.

List Indents

When working with bulleted or numbered lists, the indent markers can be used to control spacing and create multi-level lists:

  • Drag indent markers to increase/decrease space between bullets and text[1]
  • Use different bullet styles for different levels to further visually distinguish them[9]

Precise Indent Adjustments

For more precision, the Paragraph dialog box provides additional indent options:

  • Launch it from the Home tab or by right-clicking text[3]
  • Set exact indent positions under Indentation using the Before/After fields
  • Specify first-line or hanging indents under Special

Line Spacing

Adjusting line spacing changes the distance between each line of text in a paragraph. It’s useful for fitting more lines on a slide or enhancing readability.

Preset Options

Simple line spacing adjustments can be made using the preset options on the Home tab:

  • Select the text
  • Click Line Spacing on the Home tab[5]
  • Choose from single, 1.5, double, or triple spacing

Custom Options

For more control, select Line Spacing Options instead:

  • Launch the Paragraph dialog box
  • Under Spacing, set precise Before/After spacing
  • Or choose Exactly and enter a specific spacing value in points[5]


  • Increasing spacing too much can make text too small, so adjust font size accordingly[6]
  • Set spacing on individual paragraphs, or use master slides/layouts to apply globally
  • Use spacing consistently across slides for a cohesive, professional look

Formatting Lists

Proper indenting and spacing for lists improves both aesthetics and readability.

Indenting Lists

  • Use indent markers on the ruler to control space between bullets/numbers and text[1][9]
  • Be consistent with indent spacing across all lists

Multi-Level Lists

Visually distinguish nested list levels:

  • Increase indent spacing for lower levels
  • Use different bullet styles/number formats for different levels[9]

Line Spacing

  • Avoid adding extra space between list items with identical styling
  • Use the “Don’t add space” option in the Paragraph dialog box[12]

Using Tabs

You can precisely position text by adding tab stops on the ruler.

To add tab stops:

  • Display the ruler
  • Click on the ruler where you want tab stops
  • Gray markers will appear representing the tab stops[8]

Benefits include:

  • Ability to align text left, center, right or decimal at tab stops
  • Create tables/grids
  • Customize list indents

Customizing Defaults

To save time, customize default indent, spacing and tab settings rather than formatting text boxes individually:

Modify Layouts/Master Slides

  • Set indents, tabs and spacing on layouts/master slides
  • New slides based on them will inherit the defaults[7]

Create Templates

  • Format a blank presentation with defaults
  • Save as a template (.potx)
  • New presentations will contain your presets


Properly using indents, line spacing, and tabs may seem tedious but can go a long way in enhancing text readability and overall design in PowerPoint. Consistent use of these tools aligns with professional presentation best practices.

By mastering indents, spacing and tabs in PowerPoint 2010, you’ll be able to transform simple text into well-formatted, visually engaging content that resonates with your audience.